Carey Mulligan’s “Shame” song hitting wrong notes with critics – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell Start spreading the news. Carey Mulligan’s odd rendition of “New York, New York” is becoming the headline as more articles surface regarding Steve McQueen’s provocative, challenging “Shame.”

McQueen’s follow up to “Hunger” world premiered at the Venice Film Fest over the weekend before moving to Telluride. Everywhere the film screened, it earned raves for Michael Fassbender’s ferocious performance as a sex addict, even as industry trackers lamented the difficulties the graphic film will have securing wide distribution in U.S. theaters.

But another aspect of the film popping up in too many reviews is Mulligan’s song, which occurs nearly 30 minutes into the feature. Mulligan plays the concerned sister of Fassbender’s character, and while several critics aimed kudos at the “Drive” star for her brave turn, they also lambasted the sequence.

Pete Hammond cleverly quips that the scene “lasted longer than the Spanish Civil War.”

Perhaps the harshest words were delivered by Mick LaSalle, though, who wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle that he walked out of “Shame” at that point because “her interpretation of the song (or I suppose McQueen’s interpretation) is SO SLOW and morose and self-indulgent and lugubrious, not to mention such a bore and betrayal of the material — it’s really just so plain awful that it rocks your confidence in the director’s sense and taste.”

That’s drastic. If you’ve seen McQueen’s films, you know that he lets scenes stretch on as his actors explore the moment. But for an audience member not interested in the atmosphere, the pacing can lag.

The sex always will be a topic of conversation following “Shame” screenings. Fassbender and Mulligan’s performances likely will be dissected, as well. But I wonder if McQueen thought his lead actress’s singing would be bandied about, and dismissed, by press members? And will it still be a topic of interest (or an obstacle) as the Oscar season stretches on?

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One Comment

  • September 6, 2011 | Permalink |

    Sean, clearly you haven’t read too many reviews of this film, as the far MAJORITY of critics think Mulligan’s renditon of the song is one of the film’s highlights. LaSalle’s opinion is definitely a minority one. Type “Shame” “review” in google news and start catching up. I really don’t think your being all that accuarate or fair.

    Also, it would be nice if you made it clear that the quality of Mulligan’s voice isn’t the issue here.

    Hammond only brings up the length of the song in his criticism.

    And in Mike LaSalle’s comments, he starts.out by saying, “Mulligan can carry a tune”. You ommitted that part out.

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